(Civil Rights) History in Oak Park


Indivizible’s October program was a timely commemoration of local history and civic engagement. Highlighting a grassroots movement that has made game-changing impacts on American culture and society, the 50th Anniversary of the Black Panther Party generated a crowd of members and devotees alike that packed the historic Guild Theater to capacity. Mayor Kevin Johnson commenced this three-course tribute with a dedication ceremony adjacent to the 40 Acres building in Oak Park. Mayor Johnson officially designated the Victorian-era home at 3418 3rd Avenue as the Huey P. Newton House to honor the accomplishments of the Black Panther Party’s courageous founder and leader.

Mayor Johnson began the next segment of this homage with presentations from renowned artist/activist Milton Bowens and Black Panther Party Archivist Bill Jennings.  These presentations guided the audience through a timeline of several of the Party’s lesser-known, yet arguably more meaningful, pursuits and demonstrations. In the second half of this segment, Mayor Johnson hosted a Q&A session with several charter members of the Black Panther Party, followed by a fireside chat with former Black Panther Party Chair Elaine Brown. In this third segment, as the former Chair detailed some of her most memorable experiences as a Party member, it quickly became apparent that this one-on-one would be remembered as one of the most riveting and thought-provoking interviews in the history of Indivizible.

The commemoration concluded with a reception and book signing event at Underground Books that featured the guests and keynote speakers from the previous segment. The Indivizible Speaker Series will resume in December with Mayor Johnson hosting a fireside chat with renowned author Terry McMillan on Thursday, December 8th from 6-7:30 p.m. at the Guild Theater.